Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has this week spoken out in a parliamentary debate on the continuing human rights situation in Hong Kong and the need for further action from the UK government. Mr Carmichael highlighted recent actions by Beijing to curtail BBC activities in Hong Kong and the lack of engagement by the UK government with financial institutions like HSBC which have been supportive of repressive laws in the territory. The debate comes as the UK government has released its latest six month report on Hong Kong, declaring China to be in “a state of ongoing non-compliance with the Joint Declaration”.
Mr Carmichael is a Patron of Hong Kong Watch and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong.
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Carmichael said:
“[People discussing Hong Kong issues] have seen a repeated pattern of people telling us, when we speak about human rights, “Maybe just wind your neck in. There is another deal coming.”
“There are a couple of issues I want to touch on briefly. The first relates to the position of the BBC in Hong Kong and China. With the World News TV channel taken off air in China, and the blocking of news channels and internet provision for years, we have to look at what more we can do to support the World Service, which is still the blue chip standard in broadcasting around the world.
“Secondly, I would like to hear more from Government about what we are saying to financial institutions that have come out in support of the national security law. That we allow them to continue to operate as normal in this country seems to contradict what we say of our intentions towards Hong Kong. It has been reported that there have been no fewer than 16 private meetings between the Treasury and those two banks in the six months from July to December 2020. What was said at those meetings, and why are we still engaging on a business-as-usual basis?”
Speaking later, Mr Carmichael said:
“It was notable that in his response later in the debate the minister did not address any concerns relating to the behaviour of HSBC or other financial institutions. These businesses are major players and their complicity in human rights abuses in Hong Kong should not simply be waved away – it is time that the government actively engaged with them to make a change.”